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In Between the Lines of Vice

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His feet dangled over the edge of the building, swaying back and forth in the wind. The ground was so far away, so blurry. The Manhattan residents all scurrying along 5th and 34th like their all the most important thing in the world. From up here, they looked like ants, bacteria fighting to conquer the host.

The wind bit against his skin harshly, cold rips that made him shiver the slightest amount. He didn't really care though. For the first time in his life, he felt like he didn't care about the wind or who owned it. For so long he had been afraid of the air because of who he was. To him, the sky had meant danger, death even.

Sitting on top of the gate on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, didn't have fear of death. No, death and him had made a friendship. He would dance along the edge of the endless abyss and listen to the songs played by the heroes before him, but death hadn't pushed him off yet. So no, he didn't fear death, he welcomed him with open arms.

It got worse as it started to rain. Sheets of brisk water broke through the darkening Manhattan sky line, soaking him in the cold. He still didn't care though. Gazing upon the streets below as the torrential downpour blasted through the city that never sleeps, his mind was to occupied to think about the freezing rain.

He wanted to believe deep inside that he wasn't thinking about it, it would be so simple. The ground was so far away, the downpour was so thick he couldn't even see it. Quick and painless unlike the rest of his life which was full of sacrifices and pain. He wanted to believe that the idea of slipping of the top of the railing wasn't at all appealing and the ground wasn't drawing him in like he was made of death mist, still in the depths of tartarus.

He would be lying to himself.

He didn't want it anymore, the life.

He didn't want the nightmares that riddled his mind every night, turning his own mind against him. He still saw the faces of all the monsters he had killed, the faces of his friends as they met their end on the tip of a celestial bronze blade. They haunted his vision every night along with the acidic air from the pit of hell. The pain of his past wasn't something he liked to remember, but it was all he could remember.

The misery from the glass shores of the river Cocytus still lingered, the voices of desperation telling him to give in. He remembered the fiery burn as the blistering water moved down his throat from the shore of the river Phlegethon. Still felt the raw burning of his skin as all her was and ever would be was being stripped away in the depths of the river Styx.

So many scars littered across his skin, hidden by an old, worn orange t-shirt. Claw marks, knife wounds and burns took up most of the space along his torso and arms, whitened lines showed the old wounds, then there was the new ones. The once toned and smooth skin was unnaturally pale under the blue hoodie. The scars were reminders of the pain he never chose to feel, but then again he never really had a choice.

The consequences were always to high for him to ignore the responsibility. It was always the choice to fade into the darkness of the deep ocean and let the world burn, or fight through all the pain and death to save a place doesn't deserve to be saved. Sure, there was innocence in the world, but there was also evil. They were always at war, fighting for dominance without any care for the casualties. There was innocence in his eyes once, he wasn't very sure if it was still there behind the witness of war, the slaughter of good and evil.

What was good and evil? He had killed, the countless monsters and even some demigods in the name of Olympus. Was that considered good? Were the sons and daughters of Olympus that chose, or were forced to, fight in the name of the opposition really evil. The heroes were always bathed in a golden light, but not all heroes were good and not all antagonist were evil. So where did he lay?

Maybe the lines were blurred. He refused to think that those actions were evil, but they weighed too heavily upon him to be good. In a world full of differences and a life full of war you learned that the world wasn't black and white. No it wasn't limited to those colors, there was faces full of red and blue oceans. If everything was black and white than he didn't want to live in a world where the only battles were of the forces of light and dark.

Maybe he was fighting for hope. Fighting himself to keep the sliver of hope left in Pandora's pithos, to not let Elpis abandon his heart. He wasn't fighting for the forces of light and dark, he was fighting himself, for the idea that things would get better. All of these years he had held a sword in the name of Olympus for the belief that one day he could sit on a beach with his toes in the sand, watching the waves ebbing and flowing against the shore.

Where was that hope now as he sat in the rain on the top of a ten foot gate on the top of the Empire State Building?

He didn't want to fight anymore, whether the world was burning or the oh do great king of gods himself got down on his knees and begged, he was done. His hope could only last for so long.

He stared down into the streets of Manhattan, watching the water pelt down from the sky. It would be so simple, quick and easy. The ground was so far away, but it would be over in seconds and then there would be no pain.

How far would he go to escape the pain?

His legs hanging off the edge curled into his chest, pressing against his ribs so far he could feel the quickening vibrations in his ribcage. Slowly, almost impossibly slow, his feet took the weight of his body and his legs straightened. His balance on the curved fence wavered for a moment, the wind and sleet like pain pelting his skin unpleasantly.

His chest heaved taking in shaky breaths, trying and failing to calm his beating heart trying to escape his ribcage. He couldn't breath, panic flooded his veins as his legs swooned and he felt the continuous palpitations of his beating heart sitting against his Trachea. He was right on the edge, water sleeting against his skin an uselessly soaking into his clothes. He shouldn't have felt fear, he had fought of the monsters that gave the heroes of old nightmares and saved Death himself from the clutches of Titans. So why did he freeze and scrunch his face together trying to block all of it out as he stood balanced precariously on the curved iron fence.

He remembered something a friend of his once said, he had never really thought about it. In high school he seldom had the chance to form well kept and or meaningful relationships. In his last year, as he struggled to fight off nightmares and pass his exams simultaneously. Not many people even took the opportunity to talk to him, not that he blamed them, he presented himself as a way of quiet sociopathic actions purposely.

There was one girl though, either she really didn't care or was just as socially inept. She sat next to him at lunch, the only other contact was from across the classroom of 5th period biology. She was one of those artists types. She was talented, nothing compared to the complexes of what he had seen come off of Rachel's canvas, but she carried a sketchbook filled to the brim with people, all different faces.

She didn't talk much, eating the little food she brought from home in silence. We would exchange words sometimes though, how was it possible that someone had so much too say yet never had the courage to say it?

One day he had asked her out of the blue if she smart, it was a difficult question to answer but he was a curious person and maybe the lack of social interaction had gotten to him. At first she had said nothing, then he distinctly recalled a sigh drowned out by the booming laughter of the obnoxious teenagers that crowded the tables.

She said that it wasn't up to her, her life was inevitably controlled and judged by those around her. She had said that it didn't matter what she thought about herself, in the end the final decision was up to the teacher giving her a D in PE, the college declining her admission, and the management that would eventually fire her from her job. He remembered the hopeless look in her shining hazel eyes before she went back to sketching the unknowing guy sitting across from her.

It seemed so long ago, but it was only three years.

She said that the people that invaded your lives subsequently controlled it, influencing your actions and decisions. Then there were the people that decided your fate controlling you directly, whether it be with the fire of a gun pointed to your head or the lack of opportunities. Was it his fault had all of this had happened? Was the moment of him standing on the edge of the gate really his actions, or the actions of those that had pushed him and pushed him? Was this really his decision? Did he want this? Did he want it to end so abruptly?

What else could he do? He didn't know what to do with this pain he felt, the deep ache that he couldn't vanquish with the strongest of swords. He just wanted the pain to be gone, for the memories of what he had done and what was going to do to be erased from existence in the river Lethe. It was always there sitting rooted deep in his chest, in every breath, every beat of his heart, he felt his festering like a blister under his skin. What release from pain was better than death?

His body swayed in the wind, eyes closed tight as his brain fought for control over his emotions. No one looked for death, even when you want death and you hold a blade to your neck, your body repels the action and you start consider that maybe this wasn't the way. Sometimes your hands would shake, pressing the blade into your skin, holding your breath as if in suspense for the big show. He knew the process to well, but he guessed that he was to weak to do it in the end.

The big plot twist. The enormous cliche. The hero invariably brought down by his own hands.

His eyes watered as he reached the ground, stepping tentatively onto the platform as if the ground were littered with landmines. His knees buckled and gave out, crashing into the concrete and holding his upper body up by his hands. Wet matted hair splayed over his forehead and flung over his eyes, almost brittle and stringy now. In the puddle under him, sunken hollow eyes stared back, accompanied by pale skin and now sharp cheekbones.

He never did jump off that roof, no he was too weak.

Or was he too strong?

Did he fight himself to stay alive and continue to live in a world where everything wants him dead?

Or did he lose the fight to save himself from the hardships that were to come?

Only the fates know now.